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St Mary's Chapel

Looking back towards the churchyard gates. Note the Pirate Steps on the wall.

The ruins of St Mary's Chapel is the only visible remains of buildings from the village of Rattray. The chapel is mentioned in records that date from between 1214 and 1233. However, the style of the arch of the east window suggests that it was built at the end of the previous century.  It was built as a private chapel for Rattray castle which was part of the Earldom of Buchan held by the Comyn family. It is reported that it was built to commemorate the death of their son who drowned in a well.

The church has recently undergone some preservation work.


Date stone of dubious origins on the chapel wall.

Date Stone ?

There is a stone set in the wall which shows the date A.D.911. Unlike the rest of the building, it is made from polished pink granite and totally out of keeping with the original structure. It also looks like it has been added on top of the ruined wall rather than being part of the original. Official opinion also casts doubt on its validity although no explanation for its true origins is available.

Pirate Steps

There are a set of steps in the wall situated just a few yards from the main gate. Up one side of the wall and down the other. Why climb over the wall when you could walk through a gate? One explanation suggests that these were used by pirates and smugglers who were not permitted to pass through a church's gates.

Pirate Steps on the churchyard wall from the outside
and from inside the churchyard. Note how near they are to the main gate

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